Confused about mulch

heirloomgal

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I am wondering if I can use the pine shavings I use as bedding for my baby Chicks and ducklings when I clean out their crates. I have been mixing it with a large pile of top soil left from when they built our pole barn.
I'm not sure @CDitzel in regards to the chicks and ducklings. The chicken manure I use is granulated, and composted. But in terms of pine shavings, as I have a bit of that too from guinea pig bedding, it's supposed to be rotted down before being added to the garden because it ties up nitrogen until it's decomposed. Maybe mixing it with topsoil alters that. As a rule I don't add the pine bedding to my garden because of the nitrogen tie up. However, I will pour it around my rhubarb and currant bushes to block weeds out and keep moisture in, and doesn't seem to do those plants any harm. A gardener whose material I read, Bob Flowerdew, has a site with good information about various mulches; somewhere in there (that I couldn't find!) he mentions that wood shavings are not a good garden addition (fresh) for reasons tied to microflora.
 

CDitzel

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IMO it is always a question of "Used for what?"

how long does it stay mixed in that pile before being moved someplace else? does it ever actually heat up like a compost pile?

pretty much once something has been properly cooked in a compost pile it should be ok to mix it with about any garden soil where you want to add more organic material to the soil (to improve drainage, moisture holding capacity, increase soil diversity, give some longer term nutrients back to the soil, etc.).
I could maybe just use it for mulch instead of composting all of it?
We are new to gardening and composting and have purchased 6 yards of mushroom soil which is a well composted mixture. It's used as garden soil. Our clay soil is not good for our garden. Last year all that grew is what was in my above the ground boxes and those had the mushroom soil producing bumper crops of tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, beets and beans.
 

heirloomgal

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@CDitzel I had really, really clay soil in my yard too when I dug my first garden. I imported lots of bush soil to improve it, but something that really helped as well was using a lot of straw mulch (ours has no weed seeds but oats) and tilling that in every year. It created an excellent soil texture, no more sticky clods. One of the best things I did to deal withe the clay. I learned through this forum (@Ridgerunner! ) that there are some significant perks to having clay content in your garden soil.
 

ducks4you

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Medium pine shavings were still shavings in one pile I had 5 years later. I switched to fine pine shavings, nearly sawdust. Mulching can rob nutrients from the soil. Pine, especially, steals nitrogen as it breaks down.
Never had a compost pile heat up, but I don't stack horse manure. If I did, it Would steam.
 

CDitzel

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I'm not sure @CDitzel in regards to the chicks and ducklings. The chicken manure I use is granulated, and composted. But in terms of pine shavings, as I have a bit of that too from guinea pig bedding, it's supposed to be rotted down before being added to the garden because it ties up nitrogen until it's decomposed. Maybe mixing it with topsoil alters that. As a rule I don't add the pine bedding to my garden because of the nitrogen tie up. However, I will pour it around my rhubarb and currant bushes to block weeds out and keep moisture in, and doesn't seem to do those plants any harm. A gardener whose material I read, Bob Flowerdew, has a site with good information about various mulches; somewhere in there (that I couldn't find!) he mentions that wood shavings are not a good garden addition (fresh) for reasons tied to microflora.
I ordered Bob Flowerdew's book on composting, but won't get it until the end of the month. Thanks for this reference.
 

CDitzel

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@CDitzel I had really, really clay soil in my yard too when I dug my first garden. I imported lots of bush soil to improve it, but something that really helped as well was using a lot of straw mulch (ours has no weed seeds but oats) and tilling that in every year. It created an excellent soil texture, no more sticky clods. One of the best things I did to deal withe the clay. I learned through this forum (@Ridgerunner! ) that there are some significant perks to having clay content in your garden soil.
This is what we are doing this year. We put 2 dog kennels 10 x 10 x 8 together to make a 20 x 10 foot space. We removed 1 foot of the clay topsoil. There are 1 foot wide timbers pressure treated and painted with Thompsons Weatherseal and lined with plastic around the edges. We are in the process of filling it in with mushroom soil, which is a composted soil. There ie landscaping paper under the soil. It will be 12 inches deep. No deer and no rabbits or other critters can get in. It was costly to set up but should ne nice for years.
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flowerbug

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I could maybe just use it for mulch instead of composting all of it?
We are new to gardening and composting and have purchased 6 yards of mushroom soil which is a well composted mixture. It's used as garden soil. Our clay soil is not good for our garden. Last year all that grew is what was in my above the ground boxes and those had the mushroom soil producing bumper crops of tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, beets and beans.

IMO anything with chicken poops on it should not be used as a top mulch near any crops where you might be eating fruist or vegetables just in case anything gets splashed by rain or blown by the wind. hot composting at least does reduce microbes but i'm not sure of the details as i've never kept chickens.

mixing chick/chicken bedding with dirt means it is likely not hot composted, so i'd need to read up on the various microbes involved as to how long they'd persist. likely i would end up using such materials as a subsoil amendment which gets topped with clean garden soil so that there is little risk of spreading something. this is how i use my worm compost too.
 

heirloomgal

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I ordered Bob Flowerdew's book on composting, but won't get it until the end of the month. Thanks for this reference.
Cool! Bob Flowerdew is a fantastic and experimental gardener. I have his book the 'No Work Garden', (the title a typical illustration of his style of humour). Under the heading 'Best of Bob', on his site, there are some really great short pieces he's written on lots of garden topics.
 

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